The hosts had their chances but failed to make the most of them as they were held to a dreary goal-less draw by the Crocs
The LionsXII played out a 0-0 draw with Sarawak FA at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night, as they failed to break the deadlock due to their lack of quality upfront.
The hosts made four changes to the team that lost in Kelantan on Tuesday, but struggled to carve out clear chances. Besides dashing runs courtesy of Faris Ramli and Nazrul Nazari, which ended in poor crosses, Sarawak faced little threat, although Gabriel Quak saw an effort cleared off the line after 60 seconds.
The Crocs managed to find the net against the run of play when Joseph Kalang Tie met Junior Eldstal’s lob over the Lions’ backline. However, the Sarawak skipper was caught offside, to the delight of the home fans.
Fifteen minutes later, the visitors threatened to break the deadlock once again. In a goalmouth melee, Suppiah Chanturu pounced on a loose ball, but he was denied by a superb covering block from Raihan Rahman.
The battle at Jalan Besar was kept in midfield where Safuwan Baharuddin was responsible for two things - holding the ball and getting fouled.
The LionsXII, however, managed to get their first good opportunity on goal 22 minutes in. Faritz Hameed whipped in peach of a cross from the right-hand side after a darting run, finding the head of Quak, who could only direct his effort towards the floor and past the post.
The Crocs pressed on for a goal in the first period, but key players Griffiths and Chanturu were simply not at their best. The Australian glanced a header goal-ward from set piece 10 minutes from time that forced a save from Izwan, but besides that, he remained a dormant player.
The Lions’ lacklustre performance continued towards the dying seconds of the first half, which ended in some controversy.
Off Quak's freekick, Safuwan nodded the ball off the woodwork into the path of Baihakki Khaizan, who made no mistake from close range. Unbeknownst to all, referee Syed Azhar Kamar had called for a dubious foul in the box prior to the finish.
The home side came back in the second period a new team, with Khairul Amri and Faris having one chance each in the opening two minutes, but failing to find the back of the net.
On the 58 minutes, substitute Shahfiq Ghani’s left-footed freekick from 25 yards drew a confident save from Fadzley Rahi, who parried the ball to safety.
As the Lions started to get more frustrated, yellow cards were shown to Shakir Hamzah and Faris for unnecessary fouls.
Nonetheless, Sarawak still remained on the back foot while Fandi Ahmad’s boys chased that elusive goal.
A poor clearance by the Crocs' defence allowed Nazrul a free volley in the box, which he weakly walloped into the ground. The ball looked to be sailing out of play, but Hairol Mokhtar headed clear off the line as insurance.
Aqhari Abdullah and Sufian Anuar were introduced into the game within the last 10 minutes of regulation time in an effort to grab a late goal, but to no avail. To the dismay of the home fans, the foray of crosses from either flanks were simply not met with enough quality to find the net.
Sarawak seemed content to hold on for the point and that was what they eventually got, as the LionsXII paid for their inability to convert their chances.